MONDAY 23 JULY 2018
Unfortunately I didn’t march at my first International AIDS Conference in South Africa in 2016. I can’t remember exactly why, but maybe it was due to concerns about personal safety. I’ve regretted not participating ever since. I feel I should’ve been part of the action, joining fellow activists as they chanted their slogans and took to the streets of Durban. I was determined that this conference — in Amsterdam — was going to be different.
So I joined a range of individuals from NAPWHA, ACON, the Burnet Institute, and Living Positive Victoria and walked in the blistering heat to the meeting point in anticipation of the march. People gathered at the famous Amstelveld square where the bright colours of the U=U T-shirts immediately stood out for all to see. Banners were proudly held with messages about treatment access, HIV criminalisation, and free PrEP. Vans were strategically positioned either side of the square, providing opportunities for a range of speakers including Princess Mabel and our very own Ruan Uys — the brainchild behind the Towards Zero Together hike from Brussels to Amsterdam that he and others had completed just days before.
As everyone marched in solidarity pass the canals towards the main square, I felt privileged and humbled to be among them. I felt a profound connection to my community, and knew that I was part of something very special in Amsterdam.